Sun Conures as Pets

Sun conure on a branch
Sun conures are known for the rainbow of colors showcased on their feathers. Getty Images/Oon Sh/EyeEm

Sun conures are both vibrant and vocal pet birds. They get their name from their beautifully bright feathers and are considered a small to medium sized of pet bird. These attributes make them a popular pet bird but just like other birds, they aren't for everyone.

About Sun Conures

Sun conures are also known as sun parakeets and by their Latin name, Aratinga solstitalis. These vibrant parrots weigh in at about four ounces and are 12 inches in length from their head to the tip of the tail. They are commonly seen in pet stores and at bird shows for purchase.

In captivity sun conures can live over 20 years so they are definitely a long term commitment pet. In the wild these colorful parrots live in Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela where they can be seen flying through the sky in flocks. These South American countries are very warm, humid and full of tropical rain forests which sun conures love. They, like other birds, forage for food the majority of the day and nest in the trees at night. While they live in flocks, they form a bond with one other bird and are monogamous breeders. These are traits that is unfortunately often not taken into consideration in captivity as a lonely pet bird.

Sun Conure Personality

These small to medium birds make some of the most colorful pets, not only because of their feathers but also due to their personalities. Sun conures are very vocal and will let you know if they are bored or excited by using their shrill and loud voice but sun conures do more than just squawk. Sun conures are known to be little clowns that like to play, roll on their backs, and can even be trained to play games and pick up toys.

Sun conures are not known for having a large vocabulary like some parrots but they may learn a few simple words. The majority of their sounds will be high pitched, successive shrieks, especially if they are scared or excited. They are definitely not the quietest pet bird.

Feeding Sun Conures

Fruits and vegetables should supplement a diet formulated for parrots. Seeds, nuts, and insects can be offered in moderation but if a seed mix is provided as the sole source of food obesity (and concurrent diseases) can occur. This is a common problem for sun conures. Foraging behavior (for mental and physical stimulation) should also be encouraged throughout the day as opposed to simply offering a bowl filled with food. Hide food and treats in random objects, such as paper towel tubes, to encourage your sun conure to have to work to get its food.

Housing Sun Conures

While it isn't practical for most bird owners, an ideal sun conure enclosure would be an aviary. If you don't have a large area to provide your conure with to fly and explore safely, you can create a netted area or purchase a large flight cage for your home. Most owners can unfortunately only provide the bare minimum of space. A cage that is about three feet tall by two feet wide and two feet deep is typical for a sun conure but nowhere near ideal. Birds housed in a cage this size will need several hours outside of the cage each day in a safe place to explore and play. Play tops with perches, swings, and ladders for these smaller cages are also a nice addition.

Health of Sun Conures

Sun conures are prone to many diseases that other pet birds also get. Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), behavioral diseases such as self-mutilation and feather picking, and other problems are unfortunately often seen in pet conures. Annual check-ups with an exotics vet are vital to the health of your bird since all birds are professionals at hiding their diseases until they are very sick. Routine blood screenings, a fecal analysis, and visual inspections of the mouth are recommended for all species of birds. Abnormalities with organ function, bacterial and fungal issues, and other problems can all be discovered during your bird's annual appointment so they can be addressed before it's too late.

Behavioral diseases can often be avoided by offering appropriate enrichment activities and companionship. Remember, the mental health of your bird is just as important as the health of the rest of your bird. Sometimes providing more foraging opportunities, rotating toys, allowing play times with other healthy pet birds, and allowing your bird to do natural bird things like fly and nest will prevent mental issues from occurring.